Figure 1: Podaegi- Korean Sling.
For many women, the option of leaving their babies at home to be taken care of does not exist. To make ends meet she must step out to work and carry her baby along with her. Strapped to her back, the baby sling gives her hands and body enough space to do her work and at the same time to tend to her child every once in a while.
The cloth used to strap babies onto the parent is considered sacred in many cultures found in Indonesia, China, Peru and India among other countries. The size, material, colour, motifs wish the baby a prosperous life and act as a protective charm as she is taken outside the home. In many cases, the cloth’s sacredness is derived from the fact that the mother uses her spare clothes such as a saree or towel to wrap the child around her. Held against her body, the child is an extension of her. This time on the rear rather than the front.
Outside the womb, the baby remains snuggly attached to another body for support. She is protected by the cloth wrapped around her and at the same gets a glimpse of the way of life outside her home. She rocks back and forth as her mother moves and her eyes quickly grasp the view of her new surroundings.
The cloth becomes a secure space for the infant within the larger environment. To inhabit a space refers to holding on to something or having it (Habitat is derived from Habere which means to hold or have). It is a naturally suited space for the body that helps it survive and grow. As time passes, these habitats evolve into clothes and homes to accommodate the changes within our body and objects we accumulate through the course of our lives.
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"Habitat." 13 June 2021. wikipedia.org. Digital. 16 June 2021.
Han, Jaehwi, and Eunjin Lee. " Types and Changes of Traditional Korean Bunting." Fashion Business, vol. 24, no. 1, Korea Fashion Business Association ( 2020): 60–74. Digital.
Written by Rukmini Swaminathan.
Rukmini is a researcher at The Registry of Sarees. She is interested in textile, design and architecture history and hopes to explore her interests through these journal entries.